There’s an Interesting edition of Panorama on tonight - focussing on Police Misconduct – the programme draws on Freedom of Information responses from 47 of 53 UK forces for 2008-2010 which reveal that there had been -
1,915 Findings of guilt for misconduct: 1,915 and of these
382 were dismissed or told to resign as a result:
In addition to these – there were 489 Further cases where officers resigned or retired without facing the discipline process – meaning that they probably would have been found guilty of misconduct.
Assuming these are not repeat offenders, this means that in this two year period nearly 2500 officers were found guilty of misconduct charges.
Given There are just under 150 000 full time officers in the UK (250 000 employees if we cound support staff) – so this means that in any two year period, 2% of them will be found guilty of misconduct charges (4/5ths of whom are allowed to stay). Keep in mind that the typical officer will serve longer than 2 years on the force, then the number who will eventually be found guilty will increase dramatically. Also, the above figures are just telling us about the ‘misconduct officers’ who get caught.
There is other evidence such as the fact that there have been 333 deaths in police custody in the last decade but not one prosecution that suggests that there might in fact be a culture of turning a blind eye that allows misconduct to occur in a systematic way - this in turn raises the worrying prospect that the police are no more deserving of our respect than the criminals they are suppossed to be protecting the public from – as many members of the police force will themselves break the rules when they deem it to be convenient
Listened to this with my class yesterday – a great way of illustrating the extent of police racism in the 1980s as manifested most obviously under the sus laws – Sonny’s Lettah is taken almost verbatim from a letter written by a black youth (according to this blog) to his mother in Jamaica explaning why he’s in jail – basically he killed a cop in the process of defending his brother from an unprovoked incident of racist police brutality.
I include selected lyrics below, the full lyrics, and translation, can be found here
it was de miggle a di rush hour
hevrybody jus a hustle and a bustle
to go home fi dem evenin shower
mi an Jim stan up waitin pon a bus
not causin no fuss
when all of a sudden a police van pull up
out jump tree policemen
de whole a dem carryin baton
dem walk straight up to me and Jim
one a dem hold on to Jim
seh dem tekin him in
Jim tell him fi leggo a him
for him nah do nutt’n
and ‘im nah t’ief, not even a but’n
Jim start to wriggle
de police start to giggle
mama, mek I tell you wa dem do to Jim?
mek I tell you wa dem do to ‘im?
Dem thump him him in him belly and it turn to jelly
Dem lick ‘im pon ‘im back and ‘im rib get pop
Dem thump him pon him head but it tough like lead
Dem kick ‘im in ‘im seed and it started to bleed
The whole album – Forces of Victory – is stacked full of songs relevant to teaching about police racism in the 1980s -
No doubt over coming weeks, we will keep hearing that the causes of the riots are complex – but if you ask locals in Tottenham and other areas – one of the main factors is anger over the use of military policing, especially the overuse of stop and search by the MET in those areas where the rioting took place -
This is certainly what Darcus Howe is claiming in this interview – he draws on the example of his grandson who is an ‘angel but can’t count the amount of times he’s been stopped and searched by the MET’
So is Darcus Howe right? Are the police at least partly to blame for these riots – the evidence is extremely compelling!!
Quantitative analysis strongly suggests that stop and search is used disproportinately against ethnic minorities and is ineffective in combatting crime – According to this post
“Research for the group shows African-Caribbean people in Britain are 26 times more likely to be stopped under section 60 of the Public Order Act, where an officer does not require reasonable suspicion.”
“When the law requires reasonable suspicion of involvement in crime, black people are still ten times more likely to be stopped in some areas than white people, according to research by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.”
Also, a Human Rights Watch report in July revealed that although 450,000 stop and searches had been carried out under Section 44 between April 2007 and April 2009, not one was successfully prosecuted for terrorism offences as a result.
Clear anti-police graffiti
Looks like that could build resentment – and some qualitative probing also sheds some interesting light on the abuse of stop and search -
This June 2011 article from the Guardian backs up this idea – reporting on an event in Hackney in June – a 2011 ‘community conversation’ about youth crime….apparantly Bishop Wayne Malcolm of the Christian Life City church. got the evening’s biggest cheer of the day -
(from the Guardian article) – “There appears to be a disconnect between young people’s actual experience on the street of the police and what the statistics say,” he said. “There is a perception that the police are not on their side – on the side of law-abiding people – that the police are thuggish, that they’re pretty much another gang, that they are abusing their powers of stop-and-search and that they are treating people and speaking to people with such lack of dignity or respect that …”
At this point the bishop’s words were drowned out by applause. Once it had subsided he referred to the purpose of mentoring young people and how bad policing undermined this: “On the mentoring side we are saying to people, ‘You are someone, you can become someone.’ And their experience with the authorities is, ‘You are nothing, you are in the way.’ I’m saying the perception is real and it really has to be managed.”
Well – is stop and search unfair? Again from the above article – this is what deputy London Mayor Kit Malthouse said in June 2011 -
”We are very conflicted about stop-and-search,” he said. “We recognise that it can be controversial and frankly also that there appear to be quite a lot of very rude police officers, who are more aggressive than they need to be – rude, disrespectful, and not necessarily conforming to the rules.”
So if the deputy mayor is coming out and saying the police are overdoing it – they really must be abusing their powers.
Furniture store in Croydon - appeared on last night's news - over and over and over again!
We are now into the third day of night time riots and looting – and mainstream news seems to have got back to business as usual – after two days of ‘media shock’ in which BBC News 24 seemed to be doing a reasonable job of reporting – anyone was up for being interviewed – community leaders, politicians sympathetic to the poverty in Tottenham and even a few youths on the streets, they now seem to be back to their usual narrow agenda of reporting – entertaining the audience with dramatic images of youths smashing windows and burning buildings (the most dramatic images on a near constant repeat-loop); reporting from behind police lines (I’m still waiting for the ‘on the way to riot with the riot police’ footage – it’s coming!); lengthy interviews with the deputy mayor; and now tearful moments with victims of the vandals.
What really appalls me about all of this is the use of language – deliberately chosen for it’s emotive appeal rather than it’s analytical clarity – In one five minute report on breakfast I heard the phrases Marauding rioters, mindless violence, pure criminality and as one of my fellow tweeps says – I really wish they’d stop calling this anarchy!
As usual the Nadir of reporting comes in the form of The Daily Mail and The Sun – who have waded in (what was that I said about analytical clarity – well comics don’t deserve it!) with their usual immoral and misleading moral panic tones – focusing on the role of twitter and the blackberry instant messaging services in orchestrating the riots/ looting.
What’s missing from all of this – sensible sociological analysis! Given the fact that these riots were predicted some time ago - which was possible because of the wealth of historical information on riots and public disorder available – if the media just tapped up a few criminologists and political scientists – we could have sensible, informed information about the underlying causes of riots in general, but what do we get instead – emotive reporting that just stirs up existing biases -
When the Tory boys return later today I imagine they will draw on this emotive reporting to condemn the rioters and call for some kind of community action against them (working with the police, helping with the clean up) - rather than drawing our attention to the causes of these riots – because in no way is it in Cameron’s interests to actually leak out informed analysis of the underlying causes of the riots – because he’s the third generation of the political class that created the structural conditions that lead to these riots in the first place.
Next blog’ll be on ’causes’ NB I don’t use that word lightly!
You may remember this incident from a protest last December -
The Met acknowledged that “there is evidence that Jody McIntyre was inadvertently struck with a police baton.” But the inquiry found this was “justifiable and lawful” because of the “volatile and dangerous situation.” “The investigation has found that violent disorder was occurring at the location where Jody McIntyre was positioned,” the DPS found.
“At this location officers were under sustained attack and were required to use force to protect themselves, whilst attempting to control the disorder.”
The DPS said McIntyre had been tipped out of his wheelchair and pulled across the road for his own safetyYou may remember this from last December – Jodi McIntyre being pulled from his wheelchair by violent police thugs
In recent internal investigation the police said of the incident above ”there is evidence that Jody McIntyre was inadvertently struck with a police baton.” But the inquiry found this was “justifiable and lawful” because of the “volatile and dangerous situation… McIntyre [was] tipped out of his wheelchair and pulled across the road for his own safety.”
But although this should technically be in the police records as an assault, because of the context and the fact that the police are allowed to investigate themselves this event is not defined as an assault – even though it clearly is.
I mean if I were a man of violence – which I’m not – I would seriously look into becoming a riot cop – you can get away with murder, well, almost…